WNBA players union ‘stands with’ Brittney Griner after guilty plea

WNBA players union ‘stands with’ Brittney Griner after guilty plea

CHICAGO — Brittney Griner’s responsible plea Thursday has not lessened the assist the Olympic gold medalist continues to obtain from her WNBA friends.

The Phoenix Mercury All-Star pleaded responsible to drug possession fees on the second day of her trial in a Russian court docket in a case that would see her sentenced to as much as 10 years in jail. The possibility of Griner being convicted had been thought-about extraordinarily excessive earlier than her plea.

“The WNBPA stands with Brittney Griner. With a 99% conviction fee, Russia’s course of is its personal. You may’t navigate it and even perceive it like our personal authorized system,” WNBAPA Govt Director Terri Jackson mentioned in an announcement. “What we do know is that the U.S. State Division decided that Brittney Griner was wrongfully detained for a motive and we’ll depart it at that.”

Talking by means of an interpreter, Griner instructed the court docket that she had no intention of committing against the law and had acted unintentionally as a result of she had packed for Moscow in a rush. The trial was then adjourned till July 14.

Griner emphasised “that she had dedicated this act by means of negligence, unintentionally,” her lawyer, Maria Blagovolina, instructed reporters outdoors the court docket close to Moscow following the responsible plea.

WNBA Commissioner Cathy Englebert issued an announcement saying the league is continuous its effort to aide in Griner’s launch.

“Brittney Griner stays wrongfully detained in Russia and nothing that occurred as we speak modifications that 140 days later,” Englebert mentioned. “The WNBA continues to work diligently with the U.S. State Division, the White Home, and different allies in and outdoors authorities to get Brittney residence safely and as quickly as doable.

“She has the wholehearted and unconditional assist of the complete WNBA and NBA household, who eagerly await her secure return, and the league will acknowledge BG as an honorary starter at this weekend’s WNBA All-Star Sport.”

Griner, 31, was detained at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport whereas returning to play basketball in Russia, and police mentioned they discovered vape canisters containing hashish oil in her baggage.

The plea got here a day after President Joe Biden had a telephone dialog with Griner’s spouse Cherelle throughout which he instructed her that he’s working to free the two-time Olympic gold medalists as quickly as doable.

Griner’s agent Lindsay Kagawa Colas thanked the president in a tweet Thursday after her consumer entered the responsible plea.

“Brittney Griner was a mannequin of braveness as we speak,” Kagawa Colas tweeted. “She deserves our compassion, understanding, love, and assist. … We’re so grateful to @POTUS and @VP for the time they spent with Cherelle confirming their dedication to carry BG and all Individuals residence.”

Griner’s plea got here hours earlier than her workforce performed the New York Liberty on Thursday night time. The Mercury have struggled on and off the court docket with their pal and teammate caught in a jail midway all over the world.

“We’re basketball gamers and coaches, however when your pal is at risk, when your pal is saying in a letter that they are scared, these issues are laborious to get away from,” Mercury coach Vanessa Nygaard mentioned. “We do not get to stroll into our jobs and depart our lives behind. Everyone knows that. We’re all having that have. With this case with BG, it’s laborious for everybody on the workforce.”

The Mercury mentioned little when Griner was first arrested because the request of the US authorities, however have develop into extra vocal – with fellow WNBA gamers – as her incarceration has continued.

“It is an actual problem. No workforce has ever confronted this. It is a fixed undercurrent,” Nygaard mentioned. “Issues that may not be a giant deal to different groups, now we have this fixed factor with an individual we care about.”

The plea additionally got here after Griner’s WNBA workforce held a public rally in assist of the 6-foot-9 heart with a number of hundred followers in attendance. The rally on the Footprint Middle, residence of the Phoenix Mercury and Suns, was half celebration of Griner’s accomplishments on and off the court docket with a name to motion.

“100 thirty-nine days have handed since my spouse has been in a position to converse to me, to our household and our buddies,” Cherelle Griner mentioned in the course of the rally, stopping to compose herself a number of occasions. “I am annoyed my spouse will not be going to get justice. I do know you all are annoyed, too. That is why you are right here.”


AP Basketball Author John Marshall in Phoenix contributed to this report.

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